“We actually don’t have the answers, the answers are in communities and in the people we are investing in. They are the key to unlocking solutions.” -- Darren Walker
America’s Promise brought together its grantees and core partners from the GradNation campaign and Every School Healthy campaign for a cross-campaign convening called “Every Grad Healthy.” Approximately 50 leaders representing nine grantee communities and two grantee states were in attendance.
The convening provided a unique and critical opportunity for America’s Promise grantees to both deepen their practice and deepen their connectivity with communities across the country working toward similar goals. The GradNation campaign has always been about gains in the graduation rate, but it is also about graduating young people who are ready for all that comes next in life. Every School Healthy is rooted in the idea that schools, together with partner organizations, can create the conditions for health equity so every young person feels safe, supported, and empowered at school. Bringing together leaders from these campaigns just makes sense because any effort to improve graduation rates turns out to also be an effort to create a healthy school.
Every Grad Healthy provided opportunities for skill development and relationship building for organizations seeking to improve youth health and educational outcomes across the country. Participants engaged in technical assistance sessions led by campaign core partners. These working sessions allowed grantees to learn from each other and develop plans to bring new strategies back to their communities.
Improving Youth Outcomes in the Greater Boston Area
Participants attended site visits at three sites dedicated to supporting students in the greater Boston area. These site visits allowed attendees to think about innovative and holistic approaches to improving youth outcomes:
- Boston Day and Evening Academy, a competency-based learning school for non-traditional age students who have left traditional high schools or need additional credits to graduate.
- Gardner Pilot Academy/Charles River Community Health, a community school offering a range of services designed to remove the non-academic factors that prevent students from achieving success, including an on-site physician.
- Shape Up Somerville, promoting the health and well-being of all Somerville residents through cross- sector partnerships, programs, and policies.
How Learning Happens
Karen Pittman, CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment, discussed the importance of social, emotional, and academic development for young people in a variety of settings.
- Read more from Karen Pittman on supporting the whole child:
1. Whole Child = SEL in Action; SEL
2. Whole Child Education and Student Readiness: How do They Connect?
Storytelling for Impact
Data Quality Campaign, FoodCorps, and Communities In Schools shared tools and strategies to enhance grantees’ storytelling:
1. FoodCorps shared insights on program staff-driven storytelling
Check out a few stories from FoodCorps program staff: A Year of Service, a Lifetime of Impact; The Strength to Inspire; Growing Up Across Cultures; and Serving My Latinx Heritage in the Brooklyn Community.
2. Communities In Schools shared youth-driven storytelling strategies
Find out more about the What We Are Made Of project.
3. Data Quality Campaign shared about data-driven approaches to storytelling
Learn more about Data Quality Campaign’s approach to storytelling with a focus on asset framing.
Effective Cross-Sector Collaboration
Led by Lindsa McIntyre, Principal of Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Boston, MA, and leaders from ChildObesity180, sites discussed challenges and opportunities for growth in building strong cross-sector collaboration.
- Youth Engagement: Participants were joined by Dr. Linda Sprague-Martinez in two different sessions to discuss strategies that promote authentic youth engagement. With GradNation, she introduced concepts for organizations to build youth engagement into their strategic plans and actions, and shared tools to push people’s thinking without top-down strategic mandates. With Every School Healthy, she worked with the sites on combating “adultism,” which is the “oppression of young people based on an assumption that adults are superior to young people and know what is best for them and their well being.”
1. What Does Participation Mean?
2. Wheeling in the Trojan Mice: a strategy for transforming the way other members of your organization think about youth engagement
- Re-engagement: GradNation participants engaged in a strategic planning session with Andy Moore from the National League of Cities and Manny Allen from the Boston Re-engagement Center to impemen re-engagement in their cities. They created action plans to build relationships with the right stakeholders and make the case for establishing a re-engagement ecosystem in their communities.
1. National League of Cities Reengagement Network & Resources
2. Setting Goals for Opportunity Youth